Category Archives: Science

More Balticon talking headery

Hey, I still have a blog!

Today at Balticon, I will be involved in the following discussions:

  • It’s A Pandemic! at 10:30am – panel on pandemics & how they are successfully (or not) translated into games & media, such as the board game Pandemic. Since this is on the Gaming track, it will be immediately followed by a bunch of people playing… yes, Pandemic. Greatness, this.
  • Quantum Dots: The Medical Applications at 2pm
  • Attack of the Flying Syringes at 4pm – everything you wanted to know about mosquito-borne viruses, and yes, we will be talking Zika

Say howdy and follow along!

Dragon*Con goings-on

Worldcon was great, and interesting, and fun, and then it was back to the usual life-things for a week, and now I have arrived at excatly the opposite of usual life-things: Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA.

This time around I will be involved in events! Behold:

Getting Away with Murder ~ Sat 01:00 pm ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: Don’t kill people. But if you *were* to kill someone? Science can help you get away with it.

Body Alteration ~ Sun 10:00 am ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: Changing our bodies with prosthetics & implants, & our minds with chemicals. What’s next?

Infectious Diseases Want YOU ~ Sun 04:00 pm ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: Ebola, MERS, pertussis, measles…Learn the many ways you might die!

Future Drugs ~ Sun 08:30 pm ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: What does the future hold for drugs?

The ever lovely Moon Ranger is also here, and also discussing SCIENCE:

James Webb Space Telescope ~ Fri 2:30 pm ~ 309-310 – Hilton
Description: “Hubble’s Replacement”, the JWST will study every phase of our universe’s history. On it’s launch in 2018, it will be the next great observatory.

Where Science Intersects Culture ~ Sat 7:00 pm ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: Science is a human process that isn’t separate from cultural outlook, as things like the 30-meter telescope protests and #shitstorm show. What positive things can we take away from conflicts like this, and how can we mitigate our cultural biases when it comes to science?

2015 Parsec Awards ~ Sun 05:30 pm ~ Regency V – Hyatt
Description: The Parsec Award is available for Sci-fi & Fantasy Original Content and Speculative Fiction.

Kids Space Workshop ~ Mon 9:00 am ~ Hilton Crystal Ballroom
Description: Space is Cool! Space is FUN! And we show you how! It’s space science playtime! (Kid Friendly)

Satellites Old & New: What They Can & Can’t Do ~ Mon 1:00 pm ~ 309-310 – Hilton
Description: The launch of Sputnik, the 1st satellite, was the real start of the space age. Now, life as we know it could not exist without them!

Meanwhile, I will be tossing out the occasional #DragonCon thoughts here, and pleae feel free to say Hallo! if you are around!

homework for YOU, for my first Balticon panel tomorrow

SIMVASTATIN calendar, CC BY-NC-ND image by atomicshed via Flickr
SIMVASTATIN calendar, CC BY-NC-ND image by atomicshed via Flickr

For those of you attending my first panel at Balticon tomorrow, here are the links to the two journal articles I will be discussing during The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Medical Studies: A Skeptical Journal Club at 4pm. Paper copies (ancient technology, I am aware) will be available at the panel itself. Both are from open-access journals, so are free to access without paying or signing in.

The first, from BMJ Open, is “The effect of simvastatin on inflammatory cytokines in community-acquired pneumonia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial” (translated: seeing if a common cholesterol medicine can help pneumonia get better by reducing inflammation).

The second, from Arthritis, is “The Safety and Efficacy of an Enzyme Combination in Managing Knee Osteoarthritis Pain in Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial” (translated: seeing if an odd mix of “alternative medicine” enzymes makes arthritis knee pain better).

Happy reading, and see you there!

Dragon*Con Goings-On

I am in Atlanta, Georgia, for the five-day festival of chaos that is Dragon*Con. While here, I will be involved in discussions of SCIENCE and things podcastery, namely:

A Practical Guide to the End of the WorldFri 07:00 pm, 202 (Hilton) – Earthquakes, diseases, asteroid strikes, solar flares: the universe is trying to kill us, but this discussion separates disaster fact from fiction.

The Future of MedicineSat 08:30 pm, 202 (Hilton) – Learn about the future of medicine, including 3D printing, tissue engineering, cell therapy, and more.

Disasterpiece Theatre LIVESun 11:30 am, 203 (Hilton) – Formulating Hollywood movie pitches sometimes means kicking around ideas like theme, plot events, and casting.

Ask a ScientistSun 01:00 pm, Atlanta (Sheraton) – You’ve got science questions? We’ve got science answers! Expert scientists explain anything you want to know about science.

2014 Parsec AwardsSun 05:30 pm, Regency V (Hyatt) – A celebration of speculative fiction podcasting. Awards are given in numerous categories, from specific fiction content to fans news reporting.

The Solve for X Science ShowSun 10:00 pm, Grand Ballroom East (Hilton) – Puppet show, PowerPoint karaoke, quiz game, storytelling: the scientists are loose, and nobody knows what could happen next.

Please feel free to say hello if you happen by, or track me by my pithy comments and observations.

Worldcon goings-on

Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention

I’ll be headed shortly to Renovation, the 69th (In Reno. With brothels. Yes. Ok, it’s out of my system now.) World Science Fiction Convention. Tomorrow, I have the good fortune of participating in a couple of science panels:

  • Thu 16:00 – 17:00, Space and the Biological Economy: How does space exploration drive the United States’ biological economy? What do the advances in telemedicine and the biological sciences driven by NASA mean to our nation’s long-term economic and physical health? – David W. Goldman (M), Nick Kanas, H. G. Stratmann, John Cmar, Greg Bear
  • Thu 17:00 – 18:00, Infections and Viruses that Could Doom Humankind: What could create the next pandemic? A virus from animals? Food-borne illness? An engineered retrovirus? – John Cmar (M), Vylar Kaftan, Tom Lehmann, Jim Fiscus

Apart from these, I will be otherwise hanging about with the Moon Ranger and other good folk, and possibly be doing some Bad Doctoring for The Secret Lair. As usual, I will be posting occasional pithy observations, and if you are going, I look forward to seeing you there!

the death of smallpox and the birth of vaccination

Edward Jenners hair, a cc by-nc photo from Espino Family on Flickr
Edward Jenner's hair, a cc by-nc photo from Espino Family on Flickr

“A great deal of literature has been distributed casting discredit upon the value of vaccination in the prevention of smallpox. I do not see how any one who has gone through epidemics as I have, or who is familiar with the history of the subject, and who has any capacity left for clear judgement, can doubt its value.”

-Sir William Osler, from the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, December 22, 1910

Today marks the 215th anniversary of Edward Jenner’s first vaccination of a patient with cowpox to prevent smallpox, an event that directly lead to the first public health campaign to eradicate an infectious disease. I have a column up at the James Randi Educational Foundation looking at the fascinating history of the smallpox vaccine, accompanied by Leart Shaka’s thoughts on the same.

on biased cognition, and handware

P5 Glove, cc by-nc image from Roo Reynolds via Flickr
P5 Glove, cc by-nc image from Roo Reynolds via Flickr

‘People generally think their judgments are rational, and their concepts are stable. But if wearing a glove for a few minutes can reverse people’s usual judgments about what’s good and bad, perhaps the mind is more malleable than we thought.’

– Daniel Casasanto on his 2011 study in Psychological Science, When Left is ‘Right’: Motor fluency shapes abstract concepts. doi:10.1177/0956797611401755